FTC’s tax identity theft awareness week offers advice, guidance
by Jay Mayfield, Federal Trade Commission
Next week, January 13-17, is the Federal Trade Commission’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. The FTC is hosting 16 events across the country along with a series of national webinars and Twitter chats designed to raise awareness about tax identity theft and provide consumers with tips on how to protect themselves, and what to do if they become victims.
Identity theft has been the top consumer complaint to the FTC for 13 consecutive years, and tax identity theft has been an increasing share of the Commission’s identity theft complaints. In 2010, tax identity theft accounted for just 15 percent of the FTC’s identity theft complaints from consumers, while in 2011 it made up 24 percent of the overall identity theft complaints. In 2012, tax identity theft accounted for more than 43 percent of the identity theft complaints, making it the largest category of identity theft complaints by a substantial margin.
“This week’s events are designed to teach consumers more about how to protect themselves from tax ID theft and how to respond if they become victims,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “As consumers begin making preparations to file their taxes, now is the right time for them to learn more about this important issue.”
On Jan. 15, the FTC will host webinars in English at 1:30 p.m. ET and in Spanish at 3:30 p.m. ET. Links to the webinars will be available from the Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week webpage at ftc.gov/taxidtheft. At 2 p.m. ET on Jan. 16, the FTC will co-host a Twitter chat on @FTC with the Identity Theft Resource Center using the hashtag #IDTheftChat. At the same time, the FTC will also host a Spanish-language chat on @laFTC using the hashtag #roboimpuestos.
The 16 Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week events hosted by the agency will be held in cities in Alabama, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Virginia. The events held in Huntsville, Ala., Ft. Jackson, S.C. and Ft. Belvoir, Va., will focus on the particular needs of military service members, veterans and their families when it comes to fighting tax identity theft. Various events will include representatives of the IRS, AARP and local U.S. Attorney’s offices, who will provide additional information to consumers.
The FTC has created consumer education materials on tax identity theft as well as information for consumers about how to protect yourself from identity theft and what to do if you become a victim of identity theft.
In addition to the FTC-hosted events, the FTC has created an array of materials for use by local and state law enforcement agencies, consumer advocates and others in creating events of their own or providing information to consumers on how to prevent, recognize and respond to tax id theft.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.